Music Discussion: Rebellion (Lies) by Arcade Fire

It’s time to begin the music discussion week. Our first song was submitted by Caron. There are officially five of us participating, but if you are familiar with the song, please join in.
I’ll post the lyrics and simply leave the comments open for discussion.

Rebellion (Lies) by Arcade Fire
Sleeping is giving in,
 no matter what the time is.
Sleeping is giving in,
 so lift those heavy eyelids.
People say that you’ll die
faster than without water.
But we know it’s just a lie,
scare your son, scare your daughter.
People say that your dreams
are the only things that save ya.
Come on baby in our dreams,
we can live our misbehavior.
Every time you close your eyes
 Lies, Lies!
People try and hide the night
underneath the covers.
People try and hide the light
underneath the covers.
Come on hide your lovers
underneath the covers,
come on hide your lovers
underneath the covers.
Hidin’ from your brothers
underneath the covers,
come on hide your lovers
underneath the covers.
People say that you’ll die
faster than without water,
but we know it’s just a lie,
scare your son, scare your daughter,
Scare your son, scare your daughter.
Now here’s the sun, it’s alright! (Lies!)
Now here’s the moon, it’s alright! (Lies!)
Now here’s the sun, it’s alright! (Lies!)
Now here’s the moon it’s alright (Lies!)
But every time you close your eyes. (Lies!)

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18 thoughts on “Music Discussion: Rebellion (Lies) by Arcade Fire

  1. Jenni says:

    I might sound like a copycat, too, but I do agree with the escapist/anthem theories. In fact, one of my favorite things about Arcade Fire is how they write songs to stir your heart to action – they use both instrumentation and lyrics to do this. Not to diverge from this song discussion, but another song of theirs that physically shifts my heart is “Intervention” off their Neon Bible album. Man.
    I also agree that an 80s influence is not a bad thing. As Kate said, if David Bowie likes them, we ought to pay attention. 🙂
    By the way, I think I heard (or read) that at least some of the members of Arcade Fire are Christians – Winn Butler (the lead singer), for one. Has anyone else heard that? Just curious.
    And as much as I love this song, and this band, I must admit they were horrible on Austin City Limits. Please tell me that was just a one-time bad live performance!

    Like

  2. kateortiz says:

    ooh, i’m afraid jumping in here, well into the discussion, is going to sound repetitive. but i do agree with the escapist imagery and i agree with caron – it is indeed an anthem against just that – escapism/apathy. there is an ambiguity to the lyrics, though. i’d love to hear an interview with butler to hear his thoughts.
    musically i truly enjoy this band and their sound…the depth of their instrumentation. i agree with caron that their connection to 80s music is that it is undeniably an influence. but i see it as just that, an influence. they aren’t the type of band i listen to and try to peg which 80s band they sound like. and garnering the attention of such 80s (and other decades) heavyweights such as david bowie and u2 must mean they are doing something right!

    Like

  3. caron says:

    the arcade fire may have 80s influences that off-the-top-of-your-head are recognizable, but don’t let the SLIGHT eddie & the cruisers vocal similarities dismiss this band from your listening ears. the themes in this song are neck-deep– the layers of instruments, a few tracks added each “round”, build the song as an anthem against apathy. an anthem for hope in the middle of the twist–that time when “your dreams” and “real life” start to wind up, like a hefty rope, and hold the anchor for the rest of your life.
    this anthem calls us out! calls us to action! good music evokes response (emotion) and “rebellion (lies)” rouses my will to fight. reminds me, someone caught in the middle of the twist, that it’s neither that matters most.
    discuss.

    Like

  4. Nikki says:

    The 80’s are so in now, musically speaking and otherwise.
    Well, obviously the song is about a rebellion of sorts, since it’s in the title and all. But also I think it’s pretty layered and probably has multiple meanings.
    I guess my take is that the speaker feels he can rebel in his dreams–but sadly dreams aren’t reality (lies). Therein lies (ha!) the conflict, as he wants us to wake up from our sleep and live–as Claudia says–connected with the real world.
    Perhaps, too, he means to comment on human nature’s tendency to be trapped by fear–to truly live only in one’s dreams, where the waking life becomes merely one of desperation and unfulfillment.
    I can’t help but make comparisons between this song and Matthew Arnold’s “The Buried Life.”
    An excerpt:
    But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.
    And we have been on many thousand lines,
    And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;
    But hardly have we, for one little hour,
    Been on our own line, have we been ourselves–
    Hardly had skill to utter one of all
    The nameless feelings that course through our breast,
    But they course on for ever unexpress’d.
    And long we try in vain to speak and act
    Our hidden self, and what we say and do
    Is eloquent, is well–but ’tis not true!
    And then we will no more be rack’d
    With inward striving, and demand
    Of all the thousand nothings of the hour
    Their stupefying power;
    Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call!
    Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,
    From the soul’s subterranean depth upborne
    As from an infinitely distant land,
    Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey
    A melancholy into all our day.

    Like

  5. Bethany says:

    Oh yeah, and I forgot to say – I think Claudia is dead on. I think this song is about the temptation to escape the painful realities of life, to numb yourself by withdrawing – whether that’s through sleep, entertainment, sex, etc.

    Like

  6. Megan says:

    The metaphor explanation helps. I *can* think metaphorically sometimes, but I think I was thinking a bit too literally with this song and all I could think was, “Why is telling our kids they need to sleep a lie?” But when I think about checking out and escaping, it makes a lot more sense. I need to listen to it again with that in mind.
    And yes, it does have an 80’s sound to it, which has grown on me. I might like the whole album. Craig didn’t like it at all, though (and interesting enough, he likes the 80’s sound, but doesn’t like other bands ripping off the 80’s sound…). Correct me on that if I’m wrong, Craig.

    Like

  7. Claudia says:

    I am going to take a stab at the meaning of this song. I think sleeping is a metaphor for living a numbed out, escapist, walking dead life. He’s calling us out of our childhood naiveté to live connected and in reality. I have to admit sleep is a huge place I go to escape….
    If that’s what he’s saying, I agree with him wholeheartedly. Dan Zink, a professor at Covenant says if we would live honestly, our lives would heal themselves.
    On another note, it’s not my favorite musical style and sounds very 80’s.

    Like

  8. Jenni says:

    I might sound like a copycat, too, but I do agree with the escapist/anthem theories. In fact, one of my favorite things about Arcade Fire is how they write songs to stir your heart to action – they use both instrumentation and lyrics to do this. Not to diverge from this song discussion, but another song of theirs that physically shifts my heart is “Intervention” off their Neon Bible album. Man.
    I also agree that an 80s influence is not a bad thing. As Kate said, if David Bowie likes them, we ought to pay attention. 🙂
    By the way, I think I heard (or read) that at least some of the members of Arcade Fire are Christians – Winn Butler (the lead singer), for one. Has anyone else heard that? Just curious.
    And as much as I love this song, and this band, I must admit they were horrible on Austin City Limits. Please tell me that was just a one-time bad live performance!

    Like

  9. kateortiz says:

    ooh, i’m afraid jumping in here, well into the discussion, is going to sound repetitive. but i do agree with the escapist imagery and i agree with caron – it is indeed an anthem against just that – escapism/apathy. there is an ambiguity to the lyrics, though. i’d love to hear an interview with butler to hear his thoughts.
    musically i truly enjoy this band and their sound…the depth of their instrumentation. i agree with caron that their connection to 80s music is that it is undeniably an influence. but i see it as just that, an influence. they aren’t the type of band i listen to and try to peg which 80s band they sound like. and garnering the attention of such 80s (and other decades) heavyweights such as david bowie and u2 must mean they are doing something right!

    Like

  10. caron says:

    the arcade fire may have 80s influences that off-the-top-of-your-head are recognizable, but don’t let the SLIGHT eddie & the cruisers vocal similarities dismiss this band from your listening ears. the themes in this song are neck-deep– the layers of instruments, a few tracks added each “round”, build the song as an anthem against apathy. an anthem for hope in the middle of the twist–that time when “your dreams” and “real life” start to wind up, like a hefty rope, and hold the anchor for the rest of your life.
    this anthem calls us out! calls us to action! good music evokes response (emotion) and “rebellion (lies)” rouses my will to fight. reminds me, someone caught in the middle of the twist, that it’s neither that matters most.
    discuss.

    Like

  11. Nikki says:

    The 80’s are so in now, musically speaking and otherwise.
    Well, obviously the song is about a rebellion of sorts, since it’s in the title and all. But also I think it’s pretty layered and probably has multiple meanings.
    I guess my take is that the speaker feels he can rebel in his dreams–but sadly dreams aren’t reality (lies). Therein lies (ha!) the conflict, as he wants us to wake up from our sleep and live–as Claudia says–connected with the real world.
    Perhaps, too, he means to comment on human nature’s tendency to be trapped by fear–to truly live only in one’s dreams, where the waking life becomes merely one of desperation and unfulfillment.
    I can’t help but make comparisons between this song and Matthew Arnold’s “The Buried Life.”
    An excerpt:
    But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.
    And we have been on many thousand lines,
    And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;
    But hardly have we, for one little hour,
    Been on our own line, have we been ourselves–
    Hardly had skill to utter one of all
    The nameless feelings that course through our breast,
    But they course on for ever unexpress’d.
    And long we try in vain to speak and act
    Our hidden self, and what we say and do
    Is eloquent, is well–but ’tis not true!
    And then we will no more be rack’d
    With inward striving, and demand
    Of all the thousand nothings of the hour
    Their stupefying power;
    Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call!
    Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,
    From the soul’s subterranean depth upborne
    As from an infinitely distant land,
    Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey
    A melancholy into all our day.

    Like

  12. Bethany says:

    Oh yeah, and I forgot to say – I think Claudia is dead on. I think this song is about the temptation to escape the painful realities of life, to numb yourself by withdrawing – whether that’s through sleep, entertainment, sex, etc.

    Like

  13. Megan says:

    The metaphor explanation helps. I *can* think metaphorically sometimes, but I think I was thinking a bit too literally with this song and all I could think was, “Why is telling our kids they need to sleep a lie?” But when I think about checking out and escaping, it makes a lot more sense. I need to listen to it again with that in mind.
    And yes, it does have an 80’s sound to it, which has grown on me. I might like the whole album. Craig didn’t like it at all, though (and interesting enough, he likes the 80’s sound, but doesn’t like other bands ripping off the 80’s sound…). Correct me on that if I’m wrong, Craig.

    Like

  14. Claudia says:

    I am going to take a stab at the meaning of this song. I think sleeping is a metaphor for living a numbed out, escapist, walking dead life. He’s calling us out of our childhood naiveté to live connected and in reality. I have to admit sleep is a huge place I go to escape….
    If that’s what he’s saying, I agree with him wholeheartedly. Dan Zink, a professor at Covenant says if we would live honestly, our lives would heal themselves.
    On another note, it’s not my favorite musical style and sounds very 80’s.

    Like

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